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Student project from 2002, a visual essay based on their reading of Laura Esquvel's Like Water for Chocolate. Click on the picture for larger view.

Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate is a book I use to teach students how authors use historical context with fiction to make a political statement. 

Students are introduced to the literary writing style of magical realism, metaphors and similes as they explore the parallel between the government structure and the family unit within the text.  The author’s style of magical realism combined with the themes of love, traditions, rights of children, culture, revolution, racism and societal influences motivate and inspire students to share their own family experiences and explore the role of government in today’s society.

I teach this unit by comparing families to governmental structures because students are familiar with families and they bring prior knowledge to the unit while they may resist or feel apprehensive about studying governmental structure and function.  By focusing on families, I am able to indirectly show students how government structures function in societies and how important their family relationship is in their lives.

The activities for this unit are designed to help students with their learning and developmental skills in reading and writing strategies at the secondary level while exploring the issue of human rights as it relates to families, the role of family members, and governments in societies.

The students use technology to extend and support the curriculum by using the internet to research information and Microsoft Word to write the essays.  Additional technological skills learned include using computer graphics, clip art, and formatting. Students learn to   think critically, draw inferences, use prior knowledge, use textual evidence to support claims and effectively express their ideas and claims in a group setting.


Unit Overview
Essential Questions
Content Standards
Teacher Commentary

  Sample Essays -- pdf files
Essay 1: Family Tradition
Essay 2: Memorable Birthday
Essay 3: How to Cook Noodles
Essay 4: Christmas Morning
  Handouts -- pdf files
SoulFood Worksheet
"How To Essay" Assignment
Research Summary
Guided Reading Questions
Reading Schedule
Final Project Assignment

Download Handouts (Word)

Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
Like Water For Chocolate
by Laura Esquivel
Subject: English
Grade Level: 10th

Lesson Plan Author:
Connie R. Miller
Oakland Technical High School